Good for the mind, good for the sole: vibrations in post-stroke recovery

June 4, 2018

When it comes to rehabilitation, it can be all about breakthroughs. They give us the sense that we’re regaining some of the control over our lives. Control that we feel we lost in the months immediately following stroke. But as any patient in rehabilitation knows all too well, many of the factors that can prevent us from making these breakthroughs are beyond our control. Particularly those related to the stroke-related muscle weakness and balance issues. These factors can lead to falls in up to 73% of patients in recovery. But what if there were a way to improve balance and muscle weakness post-stroke? And, in turn, limit the risk of these recovery-slowing falls?

Vibrations to prevent falls

Well, according to researchers in Korea, there is a way. And, the answer might lie in the use of vibrations. The researchers have investigated the value of using this as a therapy. These vibrations are administered through a simple, non-invasive, and pain-free technique to reduce spasticity (the continuous contraction of muscles) that often follows stroke.

They tested the power of these ‘good vibrations’ when applied to the sole or underside of the foot in eighteen patients who had suffered a stroke more than six months before the study. The vibrations were applied to the stroke-affected foot of each patient at a frequency ranging from 40 to 100 vibrations per second in a single session that lasted just five minutes. And what were the benefits of this five-minute session? More than you might imagine. After the treatment, patients reported improved functional mobility and dynamic balance, which translates to an improvement in the ability to stand and move without falling while undertaking daily activities.

So if you suffer from stroke-related balance issues or muscle weakness, talk with your doctor about sole stimulation. It could do more than just get you back on your feet.

The lead author of this study is Maede Khalifeloo, Department of Physiotherapy, School of Rehabilitation, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Editorial note:

Vibration therapy might just help you find the balance you need to prevent falls.

Related articles